Pakistani opposition leaders, Shahbaz Sharif (L), leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Asif Ali Zardari (C), former President and leader of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Fazlur Rehman (R), head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, gesture during a press conference (AFP)
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition parties on Saturday warned that if the resolution calling for no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan was not tabled on Monday (March 21), they will stage a sit-in the National Assembly (NA), thereby impeding the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) that is scheduled to take place in the hall of the lower house of parliament on the same day.
On March 8, the opposition parties had submitted a no-trust motion against Khan and a request for the requisition of the NA session with the assembly’s secretariat. The assembly’s session can be requisitioned if at least 25% of members of the house sign it, following which the speaker has a maximum of 14 days to summon a session.
Addressing a joint press conference, the opposition leaders claimed that they have been receiving reports that NA speaker Asad Qaiser has been intending to go against the Constitution, law and rules of the house regarding the no-trust move. They noted that the law and rules dictated that proceedings on the no-confidence motion filed against the PM must start by Monday with the speaker calling a session for the same on the next day.
“If the NA speaker adopts undemocratic practices and the motion is not tabled on Monday, then it is my stance that we will continue sitting on the floor of the NA until we are given our right. Then, we will see how you hold your OIC conference,” warned Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party.
“If he (NA speaker) starts the no-confidence proceedings on Monday, there would be no issues in the way of the OIC and we, too, would not have any objections as the no-trust clock would be running in accordance with the law and Constitution,” Bilawal added.
The OIC session of foreign ministers has been scheduled to take place in the NA hall from March 22 to 23.
Giving his consent to Bilawal’s proposition, Shehbaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president and leader of the opposition in NA, said that if the speaker used delaying tactics, they will be compelled to stage a sit-in in the assembly hall. Those coming to attend the OIC summit are the guests of the entire nation but we will not allow you to go against the law and Constitution under the garb of this event. We will stage a sit-in then,” Sharif vowed.
PM Imran has been under pressure since a number of his party’s lawmakers have openly admitted not to vote for him on the no-trust motion. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has been accusing the opposition of horse trading.